The father of the young camogie player who died in an accidental collision in a match earlier this week said she was a “shining light” who was “very easy to love.”
Kate Moran, who would have been 21 on Monday week, was laid to rest alongside her grandfather in Co Galway amid harrowing scenes of grief.
The NUIG commerce student died after suffering a head injury while playing for Athenry in a league match against Ardrahan on Monday evening. She was treated by emergency services at the scene before being rushed to University Hospital Galway where she was pronounced dead on Tuesday.
Her father Cathal Moran, a former Athenry and Galway hurler, was at the match in Athenry when his eldest child was injured on Monday evening.
He told mourners at the funeral Mass at The Sacred Heart Church at Ryehill near Monivea he and his wife Mary and children Thady, Leah and Saoirse can’t believe this has happened.
“We hope, Kate, our love didn’t suffer much. When this happened to her, I think it was quick. I was very close to her when it happened.
“I won’t say much more about that terrible evening, I think of our beautiful Kate who we loved so dearly.
“Mary and I are so proud to be your parents, Kate, and we loved you and loved you so much since the day you were born.
“I think you are our angel now, Kate, and I think you were such a special girl.”
Kate, an All-Ireland underage winner with Galway, was due to head to New York with her mother for a shopping trip to celebrate her 21st birthday.
“But sadly, that day didn’t come,” Mr Moran said.
Mr Moran thanked everyone who has helped them since Monday, the thousands of mourners who have expressed their condolences. Mourners queued outside the family home in Monivea on Thursday afternoon and evening from 3pm to 11pm, most of them taking three hours to get to the front door, to pay their respects.
Cathal Moran paid tribute to Kate’s boyfriend TJ Brennan from Clarinbridge, himself an accomplished hurler who is on the Galway senior hurling squad.
“To TJ, Kate’s boyfriend, he has been coming to our house for a couple of years now.
“We know she loved you, TJ, and she knew you loved her, and you had a marvellous time. We are so sorry that has stopped short.
“She was awful, awful fond of you, TJ, and I’m sorry if I got in your way some evenings. I know when I would come home in the evening, I’d be asking you about hurling, and I’d take up a good bit of your time!”
Cathal Moran, who was the free-taker and one of the mainstays of the Athenry team which won three All-Ireland club hurling titles, said his daughter was an accomplished and very skilful player.
“She was a really lovely hurler and I don’t mind saying that. We wouldn’t be boastful and Kate wouldn’t be boastful — maybe we might boast between each other! — but not outside that. She had beautiful wrists and I used to love the way she used to hit the sliotar, getting that sort of trajectory.”
He paid tribute to all of Kate’s teammates and friends. Players from Athenry, Ardrahan and Monivea were among those wearing their club colours who formed a guard of honour as the hearse made the short journey from the family home to the church.
Hundreds of mourners stood in silence outside. Parish priest Fr Ronnie Boyle said the community had been stunned by what had happened.
Mr Moran said Kate would always be part of their family but they just did not know how they were going to cope with her loss.
“I don’t know how we are going to manage Kateen, but we will have to work something out together the six of us. And at such a young age, a beautiful 20 years. We have to believe Kate that you are coming home to us some time.
“Mary and I, and Katie’s sisters Leah and Saoirse, and her brother Thady, we are so proud Kate and privileged to have you with us always. You are such a darling girl and the most gorgeous, beautiful girl. You are a shining light and you are always smiling. You are endearing to everyone Kate and it was very easy to love you. You had that way about you.
“From all of us Kate I don’t know what to say. You have given us the greatest of pleasure and happiness and I can’t believe we are in this position, I can’t. But that picture that is up on the coffin there, we will always have that and we will always have Kate with us. And we will always love Kate and we want to thank Kate for being the beautiful girl she always is and will be.”
Kate Moran was laid to rest beside her grandfather Georgie Moran, a key figure in establishing the Athenry club as a force, at Templemoyle Cemetery at Newcastle in Athenry.